Foundation industries key to sustainable automotive sector

In the industrial production workshop, the robot arm of the automobile production line is working.

A new report sets out a number of key recommendations to support the sustainable future of the automotive industry.

A new report has set out five key recommendations to support the sustainable future of the automotive industry. The report is published by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge, and delivered by:

  • Innovate UK
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • Economic and Social Research Council

The report, carried out by Ricardo, a global strategic environmental and engineering consulting company, outlines how the automotive sector requires the development of new innovative materials. This includes lightweight alloys and natural fibre composites, made with a lower carbon footprint and higher recycled content, to enable the production of lightweight vehicles.

These materials must also be cost effective, while maintaining:

  • safety
  • quality
  • durability
  • performance standards

Accelerating a sustainable automotive sector

The study recommends five high-level interventions to address these challenges.

Funding for research and development

Research funding should be targeted to address gaps where the further development of materials or production methods is needed.

Capacity building

Meeting the pace of change needed in material adoption means equipping the industry with the necessary skills and knowledge to produce and utilise lightweight or low-carbon materials rather than traditional ones.

Commercialisation support

Addressing the challenge of new product supply chains reaching sufficient scale and reducing costs to be competitive with traditional materials.

The establishment of a stakeholder community

Enabling greater collaboration and dialogue between stakeholders in the foundation and automotive industries, to overcome the cross-sector challenges for innovative material adoption.

Policy development

Introducing standards for recycled materials, improving the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive, and supporting new recycling facilities.

Driving change for the consumer

Neelam Mughal, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Advanced Materials at Innovate UK Business Connect, said:

This report makes it clear that building a sustainable automotive industry will be a collective effort, from the materials producers, vehicle manufacturers, consumers as well as policy makers.

By leveraging insights into the material and technology demands from this report and engaging stakeholders across the supply chain, we can chart a course towards a more innovative and resilient automotive sector in the UK.

Developing viable solutions for the industry

Matthew Moss, Senior Consultant and Project Manager at Ricardo, said:

We were delighted to be appointed by UKRI’s Transforming the Foundation Industries Challenge to conduct this study. Our research and stakeholder engagement identified critical innovation challenges and opportunities in the automotive sector, including lightweighting, reducing carbon intensity, and increasing material circularity.

We are excited to continue our work in this field and contribute to developing viable solutions for the industry.

Defining the future

Roger Morton, Managing Director for Technology and Innovation, European Metal Recycling, added:

This report gives much food for thought in our industry. This is truly a pivot point for manufacturers, and the choices made in the coming months could define the future of the automotive industry.

Further information

Read the report on Ricardo’s website: unveiling insights into future automotive material demands.

Top image:  Credit: xieyuliang, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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